25 Weird Breaks for Stress Relief

When you keep trying to apply the same solutions to old problems all you get is the same results. If you want to develop your emotional strength, you have to be a scientist. Experiment with many different solutions and notice what works and what doesn’t. If the old solutions don’t work, it’s time to try something new.

I recently wrote a guest post for Zen Habits, 6 Amazing Techniques to Staying Happy During a Stressful Project. The feedback was tremendous.

Out of all the techniques, the one that got the best response was “Take a Weird Break.” I wasn’t expecting that.

Here is what I wrote:

4. Take a “Weird” Break

I often get mentally locked up because I can’t focus on what is right before me. There are too many options. If I have to write an email, generate a report, and work on a marketing plan then I feel hot and cloudy. My overwhelmed mind just wants to shut down. I usually get up and take a “weird” break to clear my head.

During my break I do something a little weird like take a short walk and hang from a tree branch. I find that it’s tough to worry while hanging from a beautiful tree. Plus, my creativity almost always starts flowing again.

There are so many ways we can pull ourselves out of a stressful state if we just take a moment to be creative.

We have to find creative solutions to our ever evolving stress. I put together a list of 25 weird breaks we can use to improve our work happiness.

25 Weird Break Ideas

1. Stand on one leg where people can see you and just breathe.

This is also an exercise in not caring about what others think. Hopefully this will make you even more focused to stay in the present moment.

2. Call a friend who you haven’t talked to in over a year.

Sometimes we need to reconnect with an old friend to help us see life from a new perspective.

3. Laugh really hard at a joke that is only mildly funny.

Don’t do this to be a jerk. I’m suggesting you laugh really hard at a mildly funny joke because sometimes we don’t put enough effort into laughing. It can spur on some much needed stress relief if we just tip the endorphin scales in our favor.

4. Drink water upside down.

Taking a sip of water while upside down will reduce hiccups and stress.

5. Go outside and just feel the grass for 60 seconds.

Allow yourself to feel like a kid again. Little kids are fascinated by everything they touch. They don’t have time to let worried thoughts stress them out.

When you go outside and just enjoy the natural beauty of the grass, you won’t be able to think about your career, family or anything. Just you and the earth.

6. Putt a golf ball from the opposite side.

Try to do anything from the opposite side. You have to focus very hard. Even writing your name with the other hand takes you out of your stressed out state.

7. Climb a tree barefoot.

This can hurt if you don’t pick the right tree. So find a tree with smooth bark and enjoy.

8. Make as many cool sounds with a piece of paper as you can.

The ideas are endless. My favorite is making it sound like a storm. Just hold a piece of paper at the top and shake from side to side.

9. Hug a tree.

We all should be tree huggers at some point in our lives.

10. Buy two of the craziest drinks on the way into work and share with your co-worker on your first break.

Living in Texas allows me to have a strong Mexican culture, so I picked up two bottles of some weird Mango drink for a co-worker and myself. It was delicious.

11. Meditate in your car or in the grass and focus on what it would feel like to fly like a bird.

Using your imagination to take a break is the easiest weird break anyone can do. You can fly like a bird, become invisible or create a new planet. They will all help reduce your stress.

12. Admit a weird thing you did as a kid to a co-worker.

I did a lot of weird stuff as a kid. I used to jump from high places and land on stones to see how tough I was. 🙂

13. Make a snowman out of tissue paper and tape.

A weird piece of art can take us out of our normal thought process and help us relax.

14. Walk around the office backwards.

I just did this one yesterday. (I did this one at home). I don’t think I’m cool enough to pull this one off at the office.

15. Pluck one leaf from a tree for every person you work with.

This is just plain weird and I would probably be afraid to do this, but you may have some pretty weird co-workers who might enjoy this.

16. Ask a co-worker if they could talk to someone about their stress, living or dead, who would it be.

I would choose Abraham Lincoln. He went through severe depression and came out a stronger person.

17. Play a joke on a co-worker – cover everything in Saran Wrap.

Most of us need to laugh a little more at our jobs, and a good practical joke on a friend can bring on the laughter we need.

18. Switch everything on your desk from one side to the other. (just for one day)

Life is all about perception. It’s always good to get a change of perspective when you feel stressed.

19. Find a weird object on a walk break and keep it on your desk.

I found a really white snail shell. It’s quite beautiful. Every time I see it, I feel calm. It reminds me that there are more important things in life than taking my stress too seriously.

20. List all the craziest things you’ve done in your life on a piece of paper, then burn it.

I’ve never done this one, but I really want to try it. I’m going to do this one this weekend. (Note: Always practice fire safety. I don’t recommend you starting any fires in the office unless you expect to be laid off in the next few days.) 😉

21. Email a co-worker a link to an odd story you found on the internet.

There are some weird people out there. I found one story about a meth addict who had a drug lab in his house. He called the cops because a friend stole his wallet from his house. The cops entered the house and arrested the dummy.

22. Create a paper crown for a co-worker who has the blues.

I’ve never tried this one either, but I know a co-worker who could use this one right now.

23. Photo copy your face.

A classic that never goes out of style.

24. Draw a cartoon of your boss (But don’t show it to him/her).

I did this one at home. It helped put my stress into perspective. Sometimes I take people too seriously.

25. Spin in your chair until your momentum brings you to a stop.

This is also a classic. I like this one because it makes me a little queasy, but I never regret doing it.


Weird breaks are a wonderful way to take yourself out of your normal routine and help you find a healthier and happier perspective. Think of it as a mini-vacation for the brain.

You may think some of these are too weird for you, and that’s fine. Only do what feels comfortable.

We are all weird in our own way. Some of us are better at hiding it. I say let the weirdness out, so you can just be yourself.


Need an emotional pick me up? Check out Urban Monk. It’s filled with personal development insights that you won’t get anywhere else.


Check out my Happy at Work Project and see if you want to build one yourself.


If you liked this article then try these on for size:

Image courtesy of zen

12 thoughts on “25 Weird Breaks for Stress Relief”

  1. April, the ispecialist

    I love this list. I tend to spend too much time trying to force the creativity to flow, and not enough time letting go (so the creativity can flow). I just took a moment to do a little dance and a few yoga poses…now I’m ready to work again. 🙂

  2. Great list. I can’t wait to start spinning in my chair tomorrow! I think it will enhance my entire work experience.

  3. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work

    Now your talking. I love this kind of stuff because our weirdness is the only thing that keeps us sane. There is way too much sameness out there. I love singing my goals out loud and playing my harmonica along to YouTube classics.

    Find a weird object on a walk break and keep it on your desk.

    For some reason I just had to bring back that rotting deer skull from my walk last month. 🙂

  4. Hmmm i didn’t expect ‘drink water upside down’ to make this list! I may actually try the ‘laugh hard at a joke’ one…

  5. Hi Scott, chair spinning will pick up even the worst day.

    Hi Ross, drinking water upside down in front of others is a great way to shake up the day.

    Hi Tom, a rotting deer skull is a strange and beautiful object. I’m wondering where you will put it.

  6. I work from home and I live near the beach. Sometimes I head there for a break. that said, one afternoon I went with my ipod, played music really loud, and suddenly found myself skipping along the water’s edge. I had a huge smile on my face and it felt incredible. This can be done on a city street or wherever your work is located!

    A weird break is another way to get out of your day to day to get creativity flowing. Great list.

  7. This is a great list. But a word of warning re: no. 23. When photocopying your face you should bear in mind that someone else in your office may have read this post before you and photocopied their butt! Sorry for lowering the tone 🙂

  8. Pingback: Why You Should Start Your Own Business | Work Happy Now!

Comments are closed.